Sunday, March 23, 2014

3DHS Podcast Snipet - The 60cc 91" Yak 55 - With VIDEO!

If you haven't listened to the entire Yak 55 podcast episode, here is a new product video with Ben telling us all about the 91 Yak.

Thanks to Joe and family for the media to make this video possible.

Everyone, please link/share this video when someone has questions about the 91 Yaks. You'll hear everything directly from Ben while Joe does the flying.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lipo vs Li-Ion for RX Power in High Performance Aerobatic RC Planes

Here’s a metaphor I came up with that explains how I think about the Li-Ion vs Lipo for Rx power discussion.

Disclaimer : I’m not a battery chemistry expert. I’m an IT professional that plays with electronics in my spare time. If I’m wrong or inaccurate, please let me know.

Note: to avoid confusion, when I say ‘our RC planes’ I’m talking about RC high performance aerobatic airplanes with digital servos which are 50+cc in size. (flown aggressively)

Let’s pretend that flying our RC planes is like driving on the freeway. Most of the time you’re driving at 65mph but every once in a while you need to pass a car...sometimes you need to pass a FAST car. Sometimes you need to get to 90mph from 65mph as quickly as possible. (if you haven’t figured it out yet, the passing of the cars is representing hi deflection maneuvers like snap rolls, pop tops, etc etc) Let’s assume that passing another car that is already traveling at 80 mph is equivalent to drawing 20A of current in our airplanes’ servo buses.

Let’s take a Li-Ion 2600 that is good for a 11A (4.23C) discharge, weighs 3.3 oz and costs $38. Let’s use our imaginations and pretend this Li-ion pack is a 2014 Honda Civic LX which has 143hp, weighs 2750 lbs and costs $18,000. It also has a 5 star safety rating.

The 2014 Honda Civic is an amazing car. Rated one of the safest cars in it’s class. It’s dependable and Honda has a reputation as a respectable company.

A stock base model Honda Civic can drive at 65mph with no problems...and can pass people when it needs to...however, it takes a little bit longer to pass the real fast cars...and the engine begins to struggle when it gets to say about 85-90.

Lets take our Honda Civic / Li-ion comparison and bring in a 30C 2S 2200 Lipo that is good for 66A (30C) discharge, weighs 4.5 oz and costs $15.50.

Let’s do some math to figure out what the specs of a car would be that could represent our LiPo battery.



In this relational equation, we’d be looking for a car with 1014 hp!!!

So, to make this a little more believable, let’s downgrade our Lipo and make it 20C.


x now equals 676 hp.


(3.3 oz/2750 lbs)x(4.5 oz/x lbs)

We’re looking for a car that weighs 3750 lbs.

Let’s find a CAR!!

Let’s find a car that has 676 hp and weighs 3750 lbs.

How about a 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. It has 662hp, weighs 3845 lbs, and costs $55,000. The GT500 has a 4 star safety rating. (The Civic is safer)


We have to approach cost in a slightly different manner. Let’s compare the cost difference between the Li-Pos and Li-Ions above and factor in the cost of the Civic. We can find what our GT500 would cost!


$x = $7342.11.

What if a 2013 GT500 cost only $7400?

If your goal was to drive on the highway and you NEEDED to pass people sometimes. Why on earth would you pay so much more for for a Base model Honda Civic LX?


The civic is in fact “safer” than the GT500, but both cars are fueled by explosive gasoline. Both cars can explode, it’s now just a question on how easy or hard either car is to ignite. Some might also think that since the GT500 is much faster, it’s inherently more dangerous and “less safe”.

Li-Ions and Li-Pos are VERY much the same, but not completely. I think the Crash Test Rating of cars is at least somewhat comparable to the “safety” of LiPos and Li-Ions. BOTH can explode, both can vent flames, etc etc. I would like to have more information on the EXACT differences in safety between the two battery types….however….I’m not really concerned AT ALL. Why?

Mainly because I trust Lipos. Mainly because I’ve never had a lipo catch fire. (that I didn’t intentionally set) Mainly because for the first 5 years of my RC experience, I flew ALL electric airplanes and have owned and charged at least 50-100 different LiPo batteries. No venting. No danger. I am a FIRM believer in the saying, “LiPos aren’t dangerous. People with LiPos are dangerous.”

So….if, when you read this, you feel that Li-Ions are “safer” then Li-Pos in a way more pronounced than simply using a Crash Test Rating metaphor, I ask that you explain to me with facts to help me understand.

In the end, I ask you to think to yourself and answer honestly the following two questions:

1. Would driving a GT500 65 miles per hour for 95% of the time make you feel less safe than doing the same in a Honda Civic?

2. In the year 2014, are you actually AFRAID of 2S 2200 LiPos? So much that you’d rather pay so much more for a Honda Civic?


Let’s talk about the storage charge requirement of LiPos. Let’s equate this to having to check the oil level of your car. On the Civic, it’s a small motor and you REALLY don’t need to check your oil OUTSIDE of every 3,000 - 5,000 miles when you have to change it no matter what. Let’s assume that with our Mustang, we are required to just CHECK the oil at the end of the day and add oil if it’s too low. (We can equate adding oil to storage charging batteries because discharging and charging is the exact same action on our part...just pressing different buttons on a charger.

Is that convenience reason enough to pay so much more for a Civic?


In this metaphor, keep in mind that the Power, Cost, and Weight of the battery to car comparisons are factual and based on real numbers. This is a very accurate comparison.

The highway driving scenario, safety rating, and convenience are more conceptual comparisons and are admittedly open to debate.


Here are my final and honest non-metaphorical thoughts and opinions:

Safety revisited:

Lipos are safe. Learn to handle them correctly and take care of them and they’re safe. Li-ions are safer. That doesn’t automatically make Li-pos UNsafe. Li-Ions being “safer” is not a big enough reason (to me) to use Li-Ions in our planes. If it is to YOU, that’s your decision and you will pay for it in certain ways. (more voltage drop, more money, longer charging times, and slightly lighter battery packs)

Convenience revisited:

I baby my Lipos. I have no problem taking them out of a plane to charge. (I do it in my electric planes all of the probably do too.) I have no problem keeping them at a storage charge if I’m not going to use them for more than a week. The storage charge requirement is thus not a reason for me to use Li-Ions. If it is for YOU, that’s totally fine and you will pay for that convenience in certain ways (more voltage drop, more money, longer charging times, and slightly lighter battery packs)


People claim that Li-Ions (particularly Fromeco Relions) last a very long time with little to no storage loss. Fromeco claims the life of their Relions is two years. We all know that Fromeco under rates alot (this is a good thing) and that figure is probably just to be safe.

Many of those same people also have the notion the Li-Pos don’t last as long in comparison.

Let’s be careful about that assumption and look at some more numbers.

A Relion 2600 running 7A is actually (based on 4.23C) running at 63.6% (7 divided by 11) of its capacity. Double up 2600s and you’re running both packs at 31.8% of their capacity. (7 divided by 22) Those numbers look just fine.

Let’s do the same with Lipos:

A Glacier 30C 2S 2200 running at 7A is running at only 10.6% of it’s capacity. (7 divided by 66) Double up the LiPos and they’re churning at only 5.3% of their capacity!

Ask ANY electrician and I bet they’ll tell you that an electrical component running at 5.3% has a MUCH better chance of lasting a long time compared to something running at 31.8% capacity.

In my personal experience….I have a pair of 4 year old Thunder Power 2S 1350s that have only been used for Rx power in various 50cc planes that still act as new. They’ve never been pushed in the least bit...and they still work wonderfully.

Load Checking:

What about load testing Li-Ions? For everyone who claims this is one aspect that makes Li-Ions a better choice and more reliable….please read the following very carefully:


You can load test a LiPo. There’s nothing stopping you. The Fromeco 8-ball doesn’t have a Li-Ion-only connector on it. The 8-ball won’t blow up if you hook it up to a LiPo pack.

Load testing is not a special characteristic of Li-Ion batteries.

It’s a good idea, I'll give you that!! In fact, I think I’m going to order an 8-ball myself. (however...load testing is in no way shape or form something that makes Li-Ions better or worse. It’s not a feature of the’s a procedure!)

In the end, there is no right or wrong. There is only a better choice based on your own situation.

I hope/wish that this write-up makes you at least THINK about what you want in a battery and the actual differences. I ask that you weigh the options and make the decision for yourself based on some real numbers.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

RC Digital Magazines - RC Model World

The first magazine I'll be talking about is RC Model World. this is a UK based magazine established over 20 years ago that now features a free plan and over 115 pages per issue. I first found out about this title when I was looking for information on the Grauper Yak-11 Reno Racer ARF of Czech Mate. I found that RC Model World did a review on it in their May 2012 issue. I purchased that issue on my iPhone and enjoyed the magazine. I wanted to base my review on the experience with an iPad, so I will be officially reviewing the August 2012 issue.


RC Model World is a fine magazine. It's large. The August 2012 issue was 124 pages with 37 of those (~29.8%) pages being advertisements. (others' count might be different as the judgement of what is and isn't an advertisement might come into question, but this number reflects my opinion) There is a lot of great event coverage from the UK with lots a great pictures of fantastic models. I loved the two aerodynamic articles, one about flying older biplanes and one speaking to tip stalling.

I do have a few things that struck me odd about some of the articles. In the new kits and accessories section, they mention both the FMS HS-123 and FMS Stearman. Both of these models have been released by FMS  at the very beginning of this year and were announced many months before that. Another dated item I noticed was a feature article on the Hitec Aurora 9 which started shipping in Oct of 2009. Finally, there was a feature article on the Hanger 9 RV-8. To give you an idea on how long this model has been out, Jim Booker created the review video from Horizon Hobby before he retired. The review video was published on YouTube on April 9, 2009.

Are the older items in the feature article there on purpose? Are they trying to review and talk about models that have slipped through the cracks? All of those items are cool, but I personally don't buy RC magazines to hear about 3-4 year old products.

Use of Technology
I give RC Model World 1 star out of 5 in this department. The one star is there simply because it's digital. There's not much to discuss on this point because the digital version is simply a "pdf-like" version of the printed magazine. There is no video, slide shows, audio, clickable links, or slide shows. When you view the magazine in portrait mode, you see each page and if they had a picture spanning both left and right pages, you'd only see half. When rotating the tablet to landscape, you see both left and right pages as if you were reading the printed version. This seems nice at first but I found myself having to zoom in on a lot of text to even read it.

Another item I failed to see were the free plans. I figured there would be a cool easy way to see the plans (that would be included with the digital version) and maybe an option to print. Unfortunately, I did not find any information or mention of the free plans to coincide with the digital version. I have written the editors of the magazine with a few questions and I have not received a response. I will update this review accordingly if I do hear anything.

I give RC Model World 3 out of 5 stars in this area. The event coverage is great and I really enjoyed the technical articles. The reviews were on par with the typical RC magazine. I wold have given them 4 stars if it were not for the older products discussed. I do want to convey that I enjoyed reading the articles.

Ease of Use
2 1/2 out of 5 stars for this category. This digital magazine reads exactly like a printed version. If you want to jump directly to page 100, you have to either page-turn 30-40 times or click the screen to bring up a smaller scroll wheel at the bottom to scroll to the desired page. There is no navigation outline or ability to tap on items in the table of contents to jump directly to a page. That being said, I had no problems navigating and reading the entire issue as they intended. I also think that someone who is not interested in bells and whistles and/or is used to a traditional magazine would have no issues reading through.

Layout / Designs / Looks
3 stars out of 5 for a great looking typical RC magazine. Lots of great pictures, diagrams, and attractive layouts. That being said, the digital version is exactly the same layout/looks as the printed version. I'd love to be able to talk more about the design, but being that it's no different on the Ipad, I'll leave it at that.

9 1/2 stars out of 20 possible.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

RC Digital Magazines

The popularity of the tablet for digital media is catching on. Unfortunately, the RC hobby is notorious for lagging behind current technology. Maybe I should rephrase that last statement; RC hobbyists are notorious for resisting change. Let's face it, there are still clubs out there full of members that hate anything electric, don't trust 2.4, and do whatever they can to discourage the shift of our hobby's technology to new members, and new pilots. I was discouraged last year when I was trying to find a digital RC magazine for my Kindle Fire. However, it didn't surprise me. I also knew eventually there would be one, so I had to wait.

Just before Toledo I began to hear about RC Pilot Magazine which was going to be completely digital. I was very excited to imagine a real digital magazine and not simply a PDF of a printed magazine. I was disappointed, however, that it was only available for the iPad. Oh well, I might eventually get one. At the Toledo Weak Signals show, I walked up to the RC Pilot booth and expressed my appreciation for their magazine and I was pleasantly surprised when they informed that it would be soon available for the Kindle. SWEET!

Fast forward to present day. There are at least four major digital RC magazines out and I figured this would be a great time to review each of them.

(I admit it, I do love RC magazines. I don't deny their short comings and I actually make fun of them most of the time, however I can't stay away.) I'm also exploring advertising for ATTF and I figure that a digital magazine is the perfect place targeting the perfect demographic that we're looking for. I'll be doing this in a 6 part series. Part 1 is this introduction, one part for each magazine, and finally a conclusion.

Anti-Shill Disclosure

As a host/owner of the podcast, I did interview Michael Kranitz, owner of RC Pilot magazine recently and they have donated a prize to one of our giveaways. I am a paid subscriber and I am in no other way affiliated with RC Pilot. Regarding Model Aviation, I am an AMA member and that's the extent to my relationship with them. I have absolutely no ties to the last two titles which I have reviewed. Besides my paid subscription to RC Pilot, I have purchased the individual issues of the other magazines I will be reviewing.

Review Guidelines

I am using the following criteria to review the magazines:

  • Use of Technology
I'll be looking at all of the bells and whistles the magazines utilize to set them apart from a fancy PDF. In-line video, animation, creative slide shows, links, audio, etc etc. I'll also compare what the magazine claims to offer compared to what's actually inside.
  • Content
I'll be judging on the quality of the articles. Granted, this doesn't have much to do with the magazine being digital, but it's a key factor in any magazine. If readers don't enjoy consuming/relating to the actual information, it doesn't matter how many cool features the magazine has.
  • Ease of Use
How hard is the magazine to navigate? Does everything work? Do I become agitated at anytime during the read?
  • Layout / Design / Looks
Finally, I'm going to rate each magazine on how it looks overall? Do I enjoy looking at it? Is it pleasant to read? I understand this can be a very personal area, but I feel it's warranted.

Look for the following parts of this review in the coming weeks. Use the label "Digital Magazines" here in my blog to just bring up the posts for this review.

Small ARF Build Part 3, Extreme Flight 48" MXS EXP

Part 3 is going to cover what can be the most time consuming, nerve racking, and important processes when building an ARF. Gluing in the horizontal stabilizer perfectly spaced and perfectly aligned. I think the importance of this step is often not realized and modelers often end up with a misaligned stab & elevator which will lead to unusual flying habits. Check out the last section of Scott's article Assembling your new ARF to read his explanation and tips on "Squaring The Tail"

One model-specific thing to note with this MXS is that before you even get to the alignment of the stab, you have to make sure to install the elevator UPSIDE DOWN FIRST before sliding the stab in. (see pic below taken from the official assembly manual) This is due to the large counter balances on the elevator and the fact that they're larger then the opening for the stab, so you need to slide it in at an angle. Once inserted into the fuselage the elevator can be rotated 180 degrees and placed in the proper location. 

After the elevator is in and rotated correctly, slide the horizontal stab into place. This is where the fun begins! The first alignment process is to make sure the stab is aligned with the main wings. I've found that using the wing tube is the easiest way to do this. Insert the wing tube and hold up the tail while looking a the plane from behind. Visually line up the stab and wing tube. From here, you'll be able to see if it's aligned or not. If it's not aligned, then you'll either have to add some shim material (I usually use strips of cardboard) or sand down the material opposite of the shim. You might get lucky and not have to do anything. You might only need to shim...or you might have to shim AND sand. About half of all ARFs that I've build have needed some adjustment here, so be prepared. Not fixing this can lead to unexpected traits during pitching of the plane in flight. Attempting to remedy this after the stab have been glued in place would be a nightmare so taking care of it now is the best bet. This, unfortunately, is the nature of the ARF beast.

After you have aligned to the wing, you need to square it with the wing. I've heard of some people measuring from the front tip of the horizontal stab to the end of the wing tube. This seems like a good idea except you should keep in mind that unless you remember to get the wing tube exactly centered in the fuse, you'll never get the measurements correct. I suggest attaching the main wings at this point and measuring from the same point of each wing, to the same point on each stab half. (corner or end hinge line are examples) For me, this is the most time consuming part. I find it helpful to measure each half of the stab to make absolutely sure it's centered in the fuse. After that, I take a tape measure and start adjusting until I get the exact same distance from the wing to the stab on both sides. You'll find that you'll figure out what the magic measurement is, but the hard part is getting it! 

Once everything is perfect, put a few drops of CA on the stab to lock it in place. Now you can fully glue the stab in with CA. Congradulations! You're done with what I think is the hardest part!

The last thing to do is attach the elevator with the supplied CA hinges using the same method we used on the ailerons.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wings Across America Pilot #350

In case you don't know about Wings Across America, go ahead and visit this link:

The following is a brief explanation of the program taken from the official description of the project:
A group of model airplane enthusiasts will fly a battery powered radio controlled airplane called
a ParkFlyer in all 48 contiguous United States.  The name they have given this adventure is
Wings Across America 2008 or WAA-08 for short.  What sets this project apart from all the
others ever attempted or completed is that the pilots will hand deliver the plane from pilot to
pilot.  The plane will never be shipped by mail to its next destination.  This method will be
creating a "chain" of pilots that will fly this model airplane all across the United States and back
to the starting point.  Upon completion of the adventure, the model airplane will have flown in
48 states and cover a distance of over 25,000 miles.  The plane will end her journey at home field
about 5 years after it made its maiden flight in eastern Virginia.  Currently, 356 pilots have
registered to take part in this history making project as well as 246 Academy of Model
Aeronautics (AMA) Chartered clubs are hosting the adventure as the plane makes its way across
the United States of America.
WAA-08 is the creation of Frank Geisler of Gloucester, Virginia.  Frank is an avid RC pilot,
USAF veteran, and AMA leader member who volunteers his free time to help promote the sport
of model aviation.  When Frank discussed this project with some of his friends it was received
with such enthusiasm that the project was born of this energy.  All that was needed were to find
hundreds of RC pilots across the US and in every state willing to fly the plane at their home field
then drive to the next pilot, thus forming a nationwide network of pilots who would fly an RC
airplane across America. The RC community is always looking at ways to promote the hobby
and introduce the fun, excitement, and learning opportunities this hobby has to offer to young
adults.  This is an excellent way to showcase this hobby to a lot of young Americans.
I had been hearing about the project for some time from various media outlets and knew that it had already been near the Cleveland, OH area, so I just followed with interest whenever I would hear about it. I never thought I'd be able to see and hold the plane, let alone fly it or become an official WAA pilot. The story starts when I visited my good friend Jack who had been repairing a plane for me. I pull into his driveway and he immediately says, "moose, I've got something to show you..." He opens his tailgate to reveal the WAA box.

I knew what it was right from the get-go and grabbed my camera so I could get a picture of myself with it. He then proceeds to tell me that he needs to get it to Columbus to the next pilot. I could not believe what I was hearing, because in two days time, my family and I were going to be heading to Columbus ourselves to visit COSI and the Columbus Zoo! One thing led to another and I pulled out of Jack's driveway with the WAA plane in the back of the Forester.

After contacting Frank and letting him know what was going on, I quickly made plans to visit my home field of the Flying Aces of Aurora, AMA Chartered Club #4859. There's really nothing exciting to report on the flight. The plane flies like any well designed 3 channel trainers. It handled the 5-8 MPH winds just fine. It was a privilege and an honor to put a flight on the Steven's AeroModel Squirt.

The closing of my personal chapter of the WAA journey ended in Columbus, OH when I met up with pilot #351 Michael See to transfer the plane.

I did adorn the travel case with my name and a brand new ATTF sticker. (created by NachosCheese Graphics) It's an exciting thought to maybe see that same case and plane behind glass at a museum. Is it wishful thinking that it might end up in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum? Pilots ARE dreamers, right?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Showing RC to Cub Scouts

On June 28th, Jeff Maruschek from the podcast, along with Bobby Roarison, and Dave Bondi from Austintown Hobby Shop visited the Breckville Cub Scout Day camp to provide after-lunch entertainment for around 140 cub scouts. The goal was to give the scouts a quick glimpse of what RC is about, the equipment we use, how it works, aerodynamics, and examples of planes ranging from ultra-micros up to a 100cc 3DHS AJ Slick. This afternoon's fleet consisted of  8 RC models including 2 30cc sized planes, 2 50cc sized planes, and lastly, a 104" 3DHS AJ Slick powered by a DA 120. Due to the small field size, a few smaller foamies were also brought for some flying demos.

Jeff led the demonstration with a quick overview of the hobby in general. Topics included current radio technology, AMA safety regulations, model sizes and costs. After some questions, the guys wanted to explain how the planes actually fly and how they're controlled. Jeff would explain each channel on the radio while Dave would move the appropriate surfaces on a 71" 3DHS AJ Slick. 

Next, the guys gave a quick flying demonstration with some 3D foamies. Bobby took to the skys showing some general flying and then quickly progressed into some extreme 3D maneuvers. "Bobby's a much better pilot then me, so watch him make the plane do things you'd never expect a plane to do!" Jeff said to the kids. The flying led to another round of questions, however this time it was noticed that more of the fathers were joining in and asking questions!

In the end, the trio kept the 140 scouts as quiet as they had been all week! The administration could not believe how attentive the kids were for the entire demo. There are, however, a few things the guys learned for next year's demo. "This year was more of a last minute thing that turned into a "shock and awe" display for the kids. Next year we're going to concentrate more on trainers, good first models, and buddy boxing" says Bondi.